Some westerners believe that the period in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics is one of the best opportunities to lambaste the Chinese government.
This is the case with Tibet. No matter what Chinese media reported about the atrocities of the rioters in Lhasa, how they broke the law, how unpopular the law-breakers are among Lhasa residents, the Lhasa story line in the minds of some Western media has already been shaped -- the public authority is evil and the protestors are vulnerable. It fits well with the western, Christian story of David and Goliath.
Established perceptions cannot easily be altered in arrogant minds. Once story lines are formed they often remain, and some Western news outlets don't even bother to discover facts contradictory to their shaped lines. With such closed mindsets, any new event is just evidence that confirms the pre-determined line (the prejudices if you like), which is, in the Tibet case, that the Chinese government is in the wrong.
But the arrogance is palpable in Western attitudes towards a developing country that is going to host the Games.
Despite the pristine notion of an end to war and the spreading of world harmony, the Olympics are now too much politicized. All political goals will be related to the upcoming Olympics.
Self-righteousness helps boost self confidence on the one hand, but on the other self-righteous people firmly hold to their own standards of judgment. The self-righteous judgment, often arbitrary, contributes to a blurring of conceptual boundaries such as, in the Tibet case, the inability (or unwillingness) to tell right from wrong. The criminal violence in Lhasa was repeatedly translated as a justifiable release of ethnic and religious resentment, and thus should be treated leniently.
With cognitive blackout, some self-righteous Westerners understandably tilt for unproven rumors, most later proven wrong, over the official supply of information, for special interests groups over legitimate governments. While showing sympathy for the causes advocated by those special interests groups, they display little sympathy for the victims suffering from the "justifiable" violence in Lhasa. Who in the Western media cares for the young law-enforcer who was tortured by mobs when a fist-sized scoop of flesh was ripped out of his hip? Okay, he is among the armed police, so what? Who is concerned for the lives of five sales girls who were burnt to death by rioters? The scenes were photo-shopped out of the picture.
To dig up the subconscious root of arrogance and self-righteousness, I tend to resort to 'heathen aversion,' not at all a new phenomenon. Psychological studies indicate people much more easily accept views and attitudes of people like them, both in appearance and belief. Uncontrolled 'heathen aversion' might lead to a lesser degree of tolerance of different cultures, values and ethical codes. Collectivism, for instance, is appreciated in some cultures, whereas it is discredited by others for its tendency to trample on individual rights.